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Landon Willis

Landon Willis

2015

Set a national example for editorial leadership in a small, rural county as owner of the McLean County News in 1946-72. He helped bring a hospital, factories and a dam to Calhoun. His strong editorial stands included support for the civil-rights plan of the 1948 Democratic platform and John F. Kennedy for president in 1960. He believed the editorial page was open to any topic, and he often opined on state and national issues, which cost him badly needed advertising; his wife’s teaching job helped to support them and six sons, one of whom, Clyde, edited the paper briefly. In 1963 he was the subject of “Vanishing Breed,” an ABC-TV documentary premised on the declining number of weekly papers. A graduate of Kentucky Wesleyan College, he died in 1998 and won the Tom and Pat Gish Award for courage, tenacity and integrity from the Institute of Rural Journalism and Community Issues in 2014.